According to Joe Healy of the Irish Farmer’s Association, managing health and safety on Ireland’s farms must be a constant in daily farm plans and activities.
Understanding the risks on, and around, a farm operation makes it easier to avoid dangers, and makes accidents less likely. However, all too often farmers do not recognise the risks on their farms, which makes it difficult to manage the problem. Sometimes all that is needed is a fresh pair of eyes to help identify risks and to enable change.
This year the IFA will be introducing a new service for members by employing a Health and Safety Executive to specialise in this area. The new executive will implement a farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative to advise farmers about potential risks and educate them to become safety ambassadors within their communities. Farmers who get involved in this valuable initiative will offer support and help mentor each other and facilitate farm visits to enable others visualise how safety works in a real life situation.
This method of informal learning has been shown to be effective because those involved have the potential and flexibility to adapt the programme to meet their own specific needs and develop their own approaches to improve safety on the farm. It also drives a real change in culture, demonstrates what good looks like and makes it socially unacceptable to be unsafe.
We know that safety needs to be practical, relatable and easy to carry out and we know that farmers don’t have time for complex paper-based systems as the workplace is extremely dynamic. Safe practices must be embedded in the minds of everyone involved in the farming if we are to make a real and lasting change in behaviour.
For more information visit www.ifa.ie